Follow our 2018 FloXC Countdown, where FloTrack ranks the top cross country teams in the NCAA this season, which will be LIVE on FloTrack. The No. 4 men’s spot in DII goes to Western State, and here's why:
Probable Top Five:
SR Ahmed Jama (30:12 10K; 24th at ’17 NCAA XC)
JR Ross Husch (14:15 5K; 25th at ’17 NCAA XC)
SO Taylor Stack (8:59 3K SC; 14:23 5K; 41st at ’17 NCAA XC)
SR Kyle Lewis (9:16 3K SC; 95th at ’16 NCAA XC)
SO Luke Miller (156th at ’17 NCAA XC)
Western State was the biggest surprise on the podium last November, as WSU managed a fourth place finish in Evansville despite returning zero All-Americans from the season before.
Western pulled off the feat on the backs of huge breakout seasons from the previously unheralded trio of Ahmed Jama, Ross Husch, and Taylor Stack, the low-scoring group who ultimately led the Mountaineers back to the podium for the first time since 2013. With those three now established as likely All-Americans, coach Jennifer Michel’s squad seems poised to battle for a trophy at nationals once more.
While Western had to be pleased with their NCAA meet last fall, there’s no doubt that improving on their position— even if their top runners improve— will be difficult. The Mountaineers finished a whopping 130 points behind third place Colorado Mines, and all of 2017’s top three teams look very formidable once more. To take a step further up the podium in 2018, WSU will need their No. 4 and 5 guys to improve dramatically.
Of course, if we learned anything from last year, it’s to not count out the Mountaineers based on what they have on paper. They just might surprise us once again.